The Bookworm Beat 12-17-15 — the “speed writing” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Are you familiar with speed chess? I learned about it when I was at Cal. Since I worked at the Bancroft Library, I had access to an employee break room. Every day at lunch, two men would sit there, chess board in front of them, timer at their side, and make lightning swift moves, wrapping up a single game in minutes, not hours. What I’m going for here is speed blogging. I’ve got more than 20 links, and I’m going to try to share them with you in less than half an hour of writing. Here goes….

In 2006, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the best political articles ever.  In it, he explained that there are two seasons in American politics — Attention Season and Inattention Season.  The former has a remarkable way of concentrating American minds.  Right now, with the election nearing and terrorism within our borders again, Americans are starting to shift from Inattention to Attention.  I suspect this will change the polling dynamics substantially in the next few weeks.

Trump is the bad boy of this political season, by which I mean that he’s the cool guy in the leather jacket that all the girls want to date and to domesticate. Eventually, though, the girls discover that a bad boy may have a James Dean charm about him, but he’s still bad, meaning he’s bad for the girl (and he’s equally bad for the guys who want to run with his pack).  Kurt Schlichter perfectly articulates why  Donald Trump is one of those bad boys, and explains that he’s going to be a heart breaker for those conservatives who think that this lifelong Democrat is someone to hold on to during trying times.  Rubio and Cruz are probably the best choice for the nice steady boys who will come in and save the day.

If you’d like a short but deep run-down of the last Republican debate, and one with which I happen to agree, check out Seraphic Secret’s post about the debate.

Millennials are not the next greatest generation:  they want to see American troops defeat ISIS; they just don’t want to be among the troops doing the defeating.  Having said that, I’m in no position to sneer.  I am an armchair warrior at best and a coward at worst, and have always been incredibly grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do the necessary fighting that I’m scared to do.

A group of high level military officers from numerous nations have studied Israel’s 2014 Gaza war carefully and reached their conclusion:  No war has ever been fought to such high ethical standards.  Indeed, this creates a problem, because if these standards set the new baseline for war between liberal democracies and evil tyrannies, the latter will make it impossible for the former to fight, let alone win.

And then there are the presidents who won’t fight any wars at all, even when their stubborn adherence to that policy leaves the world and America a vastly more dangerous place.  Having noted that Obama’s foreign policy can pretty much be summed up as “whatever Bush did, I’ll undo; whatever he was for, I’m against; and whatever ideology drove him, I reflexively oppose it,” Abe Greenwald has this to say about our man in the White House:  “[W]hen a leader fails to balance this (or any) outlook against facts on the ground, principle becomes theology.” American has a very scary theologian in the White House, bringing his own peculiar brand of faith to a wounded world.

Many establishment GOP outlets are tarring Ted Cruz as nothing more than an isolationist in the Obama mode.  That’s not true.  Obama just wants to stay out of everything, because he thinks America is a bad nation that taints everything it touches.  Ted Cruz, however, believes that America needs to involve itself in foreign wars only when there is a clear benefit to be had to America from winning those wars.  In this, he is neither an isolationist, nor a neocon, nor an Obama.  He is a new generation of constitutionally driven foreign policy realists.

Moreover, when it comes to Syria, Cruz is correct that it can’t be fixed.  The problem is Islam and, more specifically, the constant fighting between Sunni and Shia, as well as the short-term promises Middle Eastern dominance can guarantee:  killing your ideological opponent and enslaving the opponent’s women.  It’s the Conan version of war, and ISIS has it down to an art.  Indeed, thinking about it, I am reminded of a long-ago conversation I had with a lovely Christian woman from Damascus.  She told me that there will never be peace in the Middle East because Arabs are incapable of avoiding a fight.  To illustrate, she said that, if she were to offer a room full of Middle Eastern men a plate of cookies, they’d instantly divide into factions about whether the plate contains cookies, or biscuits, or bickies, or tarts . . . and soon the blood would flow.

When the subject is guns, it’s always worthwhile to read Larry Correia.  When the subject is guns and terrorism — as in the San Bernardino terrorist attack and the Progressives’ immediate demand that we turn over our guns — it’s even more worthwhile.

Ryan McMaken asks an excellent question about all those studies ranking the US as this incredibly violent nation when compared to Europe:  Why are we being compared to Europe?  We are a ginormous, heterogeneous nation, that has little in common with Europe when it comes to violence (although Europe, as it embraces Muslim diversity, is leaving behind its low-levels of violent crime).  In fact, we’re much closer to Latin American countries in size and make-up, and compare very well to them when it comes to violence.  Indeed, when America is compared to the world at large, we have some of the lowest violent crime rates in the world.

Even when a loved one dies in a terrorist attack, you can still reject Obama’s “disarm Americans and wait out ISIS” strategy. Timothy Sandefur’s beloved cousin was one of those who died in San Bernardino.  Sandefur introduces us to this gentle soul, but explains why his cousin’s violent, untimely death doesn’t alter his conservative convictions.

I’m not sure there’s anyone else in America, or even the world, who knows more about the decision to drop atom bombs on Japan than D. M. Giangreco.  Using recently revealed documents, he explains precisely what calculations went into Truman’s decision to drop those bombs.

John Kerry admitted that the Paris agreement has no enforcement mechanism.  The only way to enforce it, he acknowledged, is “shaming” people and nations.  Steven Hayward, bless his heart, immediately set about shaming Kerry.

Meanwhile, on the climate front at home, Mark Steyn talks about his experience before a Senate committee that Sen. Cruz convened to discuss climate change.  The most disheartening part of the post is learning that Senators, who ought to be attending the hearing to learn what the speakers have to say, including those speakers who present views different from the Senators’, instead come in, grandstand a while, ask their own experts leading questions, and then leave again, without having learned anything about the subject at issue.  It is, as Steyn says, a disgrace.

The Oberlin Black Students Union has released its list of demands and I have just a few comments.  First, scratch an activist and you’ll find an antisemite, as demonstrated by one of the first demands, which is to divest from Israel.  Just Israel.  Not any other nation in the world, including some of the most tyrannical.  Second, one of the primary movers behind the document has to be in the music program, because the document is littered with demands to change Oberlin’s Jazz program.  Third, in answer to the rhetorical question “Are these kids crazy or something?” one would have to say “Yes, they are crazy.  Moreover, they’re not just crazy, they’re also “something,” with that “something” being mad with power.”  And they are incredibly immature and self-centered.  The sad part is that these youngsters are determined to dumb down their own education, as well as the education of coming generations.  Frankly, if it were me and I actually believed all the racist meshugas they’re spouting, I would form a brand new all-black institution, implement all my demands, and beat the white establishment at its own game. That’s what the Jews did.  Somehow, though, I don’t think these demands, if implemented, will have much value in the marketplace….

I wish those Oberlin students could read this splendid essay about the threats to free speech in today’s world — but of course, they’d contend that the essay offends them and should be permanently deleted.  Brad Torgersen, incidentally, has a great name for what these students demand:  The Tyranny of the Safe.  What they are too limited, immature, and brainwashed to understand is that their screaming mania makes others feel quite unsafe (if they didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards). Additionally, when they leave academia, the world won’t be quite so forgiving of their self-centered, mean-spirited madness.

I raved about bidets when we returned from Japan in 2012. I was a lone voice then. Now, Japanese bidets and toilets generally are in the news.  You can price out your own fancy (or not so fancy) Japanese bidet here.

I fell over myself laughing when I read my friend Gary Buslik’s online dating tips explaining what makes a good or a bad profile.  If I weren’t already taken, I would respond to his profile in a New York minute.

A WWII anecdote about a time when Americans fought wars to win and Hollywood still had some class.

And I did this in 40 minutes, which was over my target, but still pretty good I think.